10 richest diamond mines in the world & what they produced

Diamond mining the world over has the promise of vast riches to the few top mines


1. Jwaneng

  • Carats: 11.5 million (2009)
  • Location: Botswana

Jwaneng is owned by Debswana, and the mine was opened in 1982. It now produces 60 per cent to 70 per cent of Debswana’s total earnings. De Beers claims Jwaneng is the richest mine in the world. In 2009, the mine treated 8.2 million metric tonnes of rock to produce 11.5 million carats.

That’s less than 1.5 carats per metric tonne of rock.

Image: ‘The Mike Tood’, an antique diamond tiara, which belonged to the late actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Photographs: Tyrone Siu/Reuters


2. Argyle

  • Carats: 9.8 million (2010)
  • Location: Australia

The Argyle mine is located in northwest Australia and is owned and operated by Rio Tinto.

The mine began production in 1985 and has produced more than 750 million carats through 2010.

The mine is the world’s largest producer of pink diamonds, even though the Argyle Pinks, as they are known, account for just 0.01 per cent of production.

The Argyle mine produced 9.8 million carats in 2010.
Image: A photograph of Elizabeth Taylor is seen behind jewels on display.
Photographs: Mike Segar/Reuters


3. Orapa

  • Carats: 9.53 million (2010)
  • Location: Botswana

Orapa is another Debswana-owned mine. The mine was opened in 1971 and is an open-pit mine from which nearly 13 million metric tonnes of rock was processed in 2010, or about one metric tonne for every 1.3 carats.

The Orapa mine produced 9.53 million carats in 2010.
Image: A diamond ring.
Photographs: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Tags: Orapa , NEXT , Botswana


4. Catoca

  • Carats: 7.5 million (2009)
  • Location: Angola

The Catoca mine is located in Angola and is owned by a consortium that includes Russia’s Alrosa, Brazil’s Odebrecht, Israel’s Daumonty and Angola’s state-owned mining company.

The mine went into production in 1997 and claims to be the world’s fourth-largest kimberlite pipe, the geological formation from which most of the world’s diamonds are mined.

The mine is expected to produce 60 million carats over its lifetime, about 35 per cent of which are gem quality.

Production in 2009 totalled 7.5 million carats.

Image: Luxury clocks and watches are displayed inside a Graff Diamonds store at Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters


5. Diavik

  • Carats: 6.5 million (2010)
  • Location: Canada

The Diavik mine is located in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Rio Tinto owns 60 per cent interest in Diavik and is the mine’s operator.

The mine went into production in 2003 as an open-pit operation that will be transitioned to a fully underground mine by next year.

The kimberlite deposits are small, but produce high-grade gem quality stones. The Diavik mine produced 6.5 million carats in 2010..
Image: A model displays the Sun-Drop diamond during a media preview in Geneva.


6. Venetia

  • Carats: 4.3 million (2010)
  • Location: South Africa

South Africa’s Venetia mine is owned and operated by De Beers.

The open-pit mine began production in 1992 and now produces about 40 per cent of South African total diamond production.

The mine processed more than four million metric tonnes of rock in 2010, giving a yield of about 1.1 carats/metric tonne.

The Venetia mine produced about 4.3 million carats in 2010.
Image: A Bonhams employee poses with the Bulgari crossover ring.
Photographs: Luke MacGregor/Reuters


7. Ekati

  • Carats: 3 million (2010)
  • Location: Canada

The Ekati mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories is 80per cent-owned by BHP Billiton.

The open-pit mine began operations in 1998 and processed 4.93 million metric tonnes of rock in 2010, yielding less than one carat/metric tonne of diamonds.

The Ekati mine produces about three per cent of the world’s annual volume of diamonds by weight and nine per cent of value.

BHP estimates that Ekati contains about 0.3 carats/metric ton of rock. In 2010, Ekati produced three million carats.
Image: A 24.78 carat Fancy Intense Pink diamond in Geneva.


A 7.03 carat oval-shaped Burmese ruby and a 12.79 carat Colombian emerald and diamond ring in Geneva.

8. Finsch

  • Carats: 1.3 million (2010)
  • Location: South Africa

The Finsch open-pit mine in South Africa was once owned by De Beers, but is now owned by independent and privately held Petra Diamonds.

The mine began operations in 1978, is South Africa’s second-largest by production and is estimated to have produced 1.3 million carats in 2010.

Petra estimates 26.6 million carats remain to be produced.

Image: A 7.03 carat oval-shaped Burmese ruby and a 12.79 carat Colombian emerald and diamond ring in Geneva.
Photographs: Reuters


  1. Letlhakane
  • Carats: 1.2 million (2010)
  • Location: Botswana

The Letlhakane mine is a Debswana property, a 50-50 joint venture between De Beers and the government of Botswana.

It went into production in 1975.

The open-pit mine processed 3.3 million metric tonnes of rock in 2010 and produced 1.2 million carats.

This is the deepest of the Debswana-owned mines and is located near the Orapa mine.
Image: An aquamarine and diamond brooch is displayed at Bentley and Skinner jewellers in London,

Tags: Botswana , NEXT , The Letlhakane , Debswana , Orapa


10. Kimberley

  • Carats: 100,000 (2010)
  • Location: South Africa

South Africa’s Kimberley mine first went into production in 1871. The original mine closed in 1914 and the underground mine closed in 1995.

De Beers, the original owner, sold underground mining rights to Petra in 2007, and Petra produced about 100,000 carats from the mine in 2010.

De Beers is re-treating the dumps on the surface and recovered 823,000 carats in 2010 from nearly 5.5 million tonnes of rock.



Henry Sapiecha


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